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© Halima Cassell. Photo Credit: Reading Museum



Craft, Pottery


Clay, Stoneware


27.8 x 47 cm


Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund: Reading Abbey Revealed Project and the Reading Foundation for Art, 2022/23

Ownership history:

Commissioned from the artist by Reading Museum, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Funded Reading Abbey Revealed Project (2015 – 2021) and the Contemporary Art Society, 2021; presented to Reading Museum, 2022/23


Reading Museum
Combining strong geometric elements with recurrent patterns and architectural principles, Halima Cassell utilises definite lines and dramatic angles to manifest the universal language of number but also to create an unsettling sense of movement in her clay sculptures. Informed by her South Asian heritage and her long-established interest in Islamic art as well as historical British architecture, Cassell is fascinated by the place of decoration in architectural settings.

In 2022, Cassell was invited by Reading Museum to develop a new commission, a carved clay sculpture, in response to the Romanesque Reading Abbey stones. These are arguably the most historically significant works of art in the Reading Museum collection and are some of the few remaining examples of the flowering of stone carving in England in the eleventh century. There are strong connections between Cassell’s deeply carved, brilliantly calculated surfaces and the Romanesque aesthetic, which was itself influenced by Moorish art and architecture.

Cassell’s stoneware is heavily imbedded with grog – crushed or ground ceramic material, reintroduced to raw clay prior to shaping and firing – and as a result, the texture of Vestige is akin to sandstone. This creates an aesthetic synergy with the stones but also a surprise for visitors discovering the medium. Vestige will sit among the abbey capitols in Reading Museum’s collection to bring a new artistic perspective to the abbey stones and to celebrate their international significance. The art collection at Reading Museum has strengths in both sculpture and ceramic work, and the new sculpture will add a contemporary vision. The Reading Museum’s Contemporary Collection aims to address specific communities in Reading – in this case, art lovers and people of Islamic heritage – reflecting the diverse nature of Reading’s communities and creating relevance, reflection, linkage and contrast between the past and the present.

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